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Object: Portrait of Richard Arthur Williamson

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Title Portrait of Richard Arthur Williamson
Production Berry & Co (photography studio), 1917, Wellington
Materials photographic gelatin, sheet glass, silver, photographic plates
Classification studio portraits, portraits, black-and-white negatives, gelatin dry plate negatives
Format half plate (1/2)
Credit line Purchased 1998 with New Zealand Lottery Grants Board funds
Registration number B.045595

Richard Arthur Williamson, service number 46155

This portrait shows Lance- Corporal Richard Arthur Williamson, of the 25th Reinforcements, New Zealand Expeditionary Force.

Richard was born at Taita, in the Hutt Valley, where his parents, Alexander and Emma were farming, on 5 August 1896.  When he attested for military service on 7 December 1916 he was working as a farmer for F.T. Williamson at Gordonton, a small town in the Waikato region.

Richard commenced training with 'E' Company of the 25th Reinforcements on 6 February 1917.  On 14 March he was promoted to Lance-Corporal, and to Corporal on 23 April . Some time between these dates, probably shortly before his embarkation from Wellington on 26 April, Richard visited Berry & Company's studio to have his portrait taken.

Richard disembarked at Devonport, England on 20 July and marched into Sling Camp the same day.  He was posted to the 4th Reserve Battalion of the Auckland Infantry Regiment with the rank of Lance-Corporal, and was sent to France on 5 September. He was at Etaples Camp from 5 September till 3 October.  On 11 October 1917 he went to the Front, where he joined the 1st Battalion of the Auckland Regiment. He was still a Lance-Corporal, but on 12 November he relinquished the rank at his own request and reverted to Private.

Richard was wounded in his neck by a gun shot on 3 April 1918 and sent to hospitals in England until he was discharged to the New Zealand Command Depot on 9 August.   On 3 October he was back at Sling Camp with the Auckland Regiment's Reserve Battalion and on 4 November he was ordered to attend a training course for Non-Commissioned Officers at Tidworth, with the rank of Lance-Corporal.  He was back with his Battalion at Sling by 10 December as a Private, having again relinquished his rank.

Richard embarked at Tilbury for the voyage home on 12 April 1919 and arrived at Wellington on 30 May. He was discharged from the NZEF on 27 June 1919.

Richard returned to the Waikato and became a dairy famer at Puketaha.   He served with the Home Guard as Company Sergeant Major of the Waiuku Battalion in the Second World War by which time he was married to Elizabeth Mary Riddell and the couple had two children. 

Richard died at Rotorua Hospital on 9 January 1981, aged 84.

I know who this is

The Berry Boys
During World War I, around 120 Kiwi soldiers had their photograph taken at Wellington’s Berry & Co photography studio before they left New Zealand to fight in the war . These portraits are now in Te Papa’s collection.

In the lead-up to the World War I centenary (2014-18), Te Papa is working to identify these soldiers and the loved ones they are pictured with. We want to make contact with their descendants, and to record their stories.

Some soldiers have already been identified. For others, we only have the surname etched on the glass negative.

Contact us
If you have any information you can share about the Berry Boys - either a soldier or someone they are photographed with - please use the online form above. You can also email or leave a phone message for us on 04 381 7129. You can also write to Berry Boys Project Team, Te Papa, PO Box 467, Wellington 6140.

To aid identification, please be sure to include the Te Papa registration number (B.044366, for example) for the photo in question.

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Disclaimer: This information was created from historic documentation, and may not necessarily reflect the best available knowledge about the item. Some collection images are created for identification purposes only and may not be of reproduction quality. Some images are not available due to copyright restrictions. If you have information or questions about objects in the collection, contact us using our enquiry form. You can also find out more about Collections Online.